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The Rev. Susan Sparks The Rev. Susan Sparks
The Rev. Susan Sparks is a former trial lawyer who now serves as senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York, NY.

Member of:

American Baptist Churches USA

Representative of:

Madison Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY


Another Boring Easter

April 20, 2011

 

Every Easter it's the same thing: Messiah is born, Messiah is crucified, Messiah raises from the dead.  Whatever. 

            Shocking words? 

            Blasphemy?

            No.  Reality.

The sad fact is that we, as human beings, have lost the ability to appreciate miracles.   We are so bombarded with extreme images, decimal blasting sounds and crushing amounts of information, very few things make us gasp anymore. 

The world in which we live has conditioned us to demand a high bar for surprise.  Think about entertainment for example.  Gone are the days of choosing one show from three channels and watching it to its conclusion; now we flip in between several shows choosing from 800 channels, all the while watching previews of more shows which appear in the corner of our screen. 

If television is not your thing, then pick a movie from a list of thousands or download a video game or better yet stream an event live!  Whatever you want to see, whatever you want to experience - no matter how violent or extreme - it is available to us 24/7.    

We have become buried under the information and images and sounds; our senses have become dulled;  we've gotten bored.  It's like the little boy who sat in the school room with his head in his hands staring at his school book saying "I wish my arithmetic was done and that I was married and dead."

Unfortunately, there are some dangerous repercussions from this loss of surprise.  We turn on the news and hear that nine million children in this country don't have health care. Our response? "Wow, that's really awful," then we sip a little more of our latte and turn the page of our Vanity Fair. 

We've lost the ability to be surprised, to be awed, to gasp.   These days the simple resurrection of a Messiah just doesn't stand much of a chance.   What a shame, especially since we can so easily learn to be surprised all over again.  We must begin to "see" and "hear" in a different way.

A few years ago, the BBC reported on an innovative treatment for deafness in children through the song of dolphins.  Apparently, ultrasonic waves in the dolphin's voices stimulate nerve endings in the ear and in the brain.  Ten deaf children were lined up by the side of the pool with their backs to the dolphins. One by one, the children remove their hearing aids and waited for a dose of musical medicine. At the command, the dolphins (Raddy and Grand) burst into song.  Suddenly, the children raised their hands in joy.  "I can hear! says 11-year-old Antonia, I can hear the dolphins sing." 

There is a wonderful Jewish prayer which is sometimes used on the Sabbath. It begins, "Days pass and years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles."  

With every new day, there is the miracle of the resurrection of life and energy and spirit.  And we miss it.  Thank goodness God doesn't miss it.  Genesis tells us that during creation, a wind from God swept over the fact of the waters.  I don't know this for a fact, but I would bet that wind came from God's gasp at the utter perfection and beauty of creation. 

As children of God, perhaps we too can be surprised.  The author Anne LaMott said "It's not what we are looking at, but what we are looking with, that matters."  If only we could open our jaded hearts to the miracle of Easter...

It was still dark when Mary went into the tomb.   The stone was rolled away, but Jesus was gone.  Mary stood outside tomb weeping and a person appeared - a person she thought was the gardener.

 "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

"Mary," he said quietly. 

She gasped.  "Rabbouni?"

The second he says her name, Mary realizes that this stranger standing before her was the risen Christ; she realizes it because her heart was open and she was ready to be surprised. 

The same can happen for us if we would only nurse our dulled spiritual senses back to life.  Then we too can have that moment of recognition that we are loved so fully and deeply that God sent a part of God's self to protect and save us; a moment of recognition that the stranger standing before us is the living Christ; a moment when we realize it's not just another boring Easter.


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